Best Portable DAB Radios in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update June 24, 2020
Portable DAB radios let you receive and enjoy digital audio broadcasts on the road and, at times, even on the go. These devices can receive and decode any digital broadcast, providing the cleanest, most consistent audio stream. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Playback
Power Source
Speakers
Extras
Dimensions
Warranty
 
PROS

The sleep feature lets you choose between 15-, 30-, 45-, and 60-minute automatic shutoff options. The volume knob is responsive but, at the same time, firm, meaning that you will not be able to accidentally increase/decrease the volume. 

CONS

The device quickly burns through batteries. 

OUR VERDICT

The Sony XDR-S41D touts meticulous attention to detail, taking the standard 90s radio design and refining it. The 5-line LCD screen makes the information easily accessible, whilst the preset buttons eliminate the time spent searching for the right stations.

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld / tabletop

Playback

DAB/DAB+, FM

Power Source

4 x "AA" batteries

AC

Speakers

Mono speaker

Extras

LCD screen, Telescopic antenna, 5 DAB direct preset buttons and 5 FM direct preset buttons, Wake up and sleep timer, Headphones jack

Dimensions

18 x 9.5 x 3.6 cm

Warranty

1 year

PROS

You can use the remote and skip songs, change stations, and manage the volume without approaching the device. The sub and the model's output, reaching 18 watts, will provide balanced vocals and deep audio that can fill considerable rooms. 

CONS

The white panels are easily soiled.

OUR VERDICT

With its retro aesthetic, the Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1 looks stunning, much more elegant and intriguing than most DAB radios. Despite the retro appearance though, this is one sophisticated device, packing more settings and features than its more expensive peers.

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld / tabletop

Playback

DAB/DAB+, FM

Power Source

Built-in rechargeable battery (up to 10 hours)

USB charging cable with AC adapter included

Speakers

Mono speaker with subwoofer

Extras

LCD screen, Telescopic antenna, Wake up and sleep timer, Equaliser controls, AUX-input jack, Remote control included

Dimensions

19.8 x 12.5 x 8.8 cm

Warranty

3 years (registration required)

PROS

The model weighs 350 grammes, so you can use the strap added to the radio and carry this one wrapped around the wrist without occupying even one hand. The LCD screen, even though limited to 8 characters, will make searching and scrolling through the menus quite easy. 

CONS

The speaker is quiet. 

OUR VERDICT

The Roberts Radio Play10 comes at an affordable price, with its telescope antenna extending the range and letting you listen to DAB, DAB+, and FM stations even in the basement, with multiple walls not really affecting the signal. Plus, you can choose between black and white housings.

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld / tabletop

Playback

DAB/DAB+, FM

Power Source

4 x "AA" batteries

AC

Speakers

Mono speaker

Extras

LCD screen, Telescopic antenna, Headphones jack

Dimensions

18 x 10.5 x 5.5 cm

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The integrated aerial on the earphones will minimise interference. You can lock the buttons and prevent accidental adjustments. The anti-glare treatment will make the information on the screen readable even under direct sunlight. 

CONS

The buttons feel a little flimsy. 

OUR VERDICT

People who are all about enjoying radio on the go will appreciate the Majority Petersfield Go. Disregarding its modest footprint, the radio offers more than enough features, functions, and settings to satisfy even the most demanding radio enthusiasts.

detailed parameters
Type

Pocket

Playback

DAB/DAB+, FM

Power Source

Built-in rechargeable battery (up to 12 hours)

USB charging cable included

Speakers

No speakers (headphones included)

Extras

LCD screen, Clip-on pocket clasp, Lockable buttons, Headphones jack

Dimensions

7.5 x 5.4 x 1.2 cm

Warranty

3 years (registration required)

PROS

The integrated battery, reaching 2200 mAh, will usually last around 15 hours. Using the supplied USB cable, you'll be able to recharge the battery within 2-2.5 hours. Apart from preset buttons, the radio lets you save 30 DAB and 30 FM stations to the favourites list. 

CONS

The UI is clunky. 

OUR VERDICT

This DAB radio from I-Box is not necessarily pushing the envelope but, with its durable rubberised finish, more than guarantees the "portable" part, protecting the device from dust, moisture, and impact, whilst the embedded strap enables comfortable carrying. 

detailed parameters
Type

Handheld / tabletop

Playback

DAB/DAB+, FM

Power Source

Built-in rechargeable battery (up to 15 hours)

USB charging cable included

Speakers

Mono speaker

Extras

LCD screen, Telescopic antenna, 5 DAB direct preset buttons and 5 FM direct preset buttons, Sleep timer, Headphones jack

Dimensions

18 x 9.3 x 4.6 cm

Warranty

1 year

Sony XDR-S41D

90s Throwback Meets Modern Solutions

The Sony XDR-S41D looks a little like 90s throwback mixed with something modern. First, you have the size and the general appearance, measuring 18 x 9.5 x 3.6 centimetres that are forming this black rectangular block, nothing that radios ~20-30 years ago were not offering aesthetics-wise. Capping at ~450 grammes, this portable DAB radio is much more lightweight than the size would suggest, which is an always welcome moment.

Then, you have the huge mesh net covering somewhere around two-thirds of the model's profile, hiding the mono speaker. Covering it with fabric, the speaker offers relatively noiseless acoustic transmission, making sure that the sound is coming out crisp and almost distortion-free.

To the right, the 90s throwback design meets the modern LCD five-line screen. Aside from the time, battery status, and the current mode, the screen displays programme details, including the song, artist, and the station. Featuring backlighting, the model's screen is visible even when the ambient light is nonexistent, so you can manipulate the settings without turning on the lights.

Review of Sony XDR-S41D Portable DAB/DAB+ Wireless Radio with LCD Display

The Right Layout

Below the screen are the Menu, Back, Auto Tune, DAB/FM, and Enter buttons, with corresponding functions. There's nothing especially interesting about these buttons. There is, however, something interesting about the five preset buttons at the top. You can assign five favourite DAB stations onto these buttons and five FM stations, using the above-mentioned DAB/FM button to switch between the two groups and using these five preset buttons so that you can sift through your favourite stations without searching for them every time you turn on the radio. To the left, these buttons are met with the Power button, responsive yet not too delicate. To the right, you have the standard volume knob, also responsive yet not easily misclicked, so you will not be accidentally increasing or decreasing the volume at times. Finally, close to the volume knob, the radio houses its telescopic antenna, offering an extensive range and not easily broken.

The presets buttons are great and the screen's alright but, when battery-powered, the radio burning through those batteries like nobody's business, which is a little unfortunate since people seldom enjoy replacing them. You can always choose an AC connection though, using the supplied AC adaptor and the mains.

Cutting to the chase, the Sony XDR-S41D does more with less, letting you listen to favourite radio stations but reducing the standard inconveniences that radio and radio receivers entail.

Sony XDR-S41D Portable DAB/DAB+ Wireless Radio with LCD Display in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1

Cannot go Wrong Choosing the Retro Turn

The Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1 looks brilliant, with its ~50-60s retro aesthetic putting considerable distance between the radio and its bland contemporaries, all following the same playbook, all looking boring and uninspired. There's nothing boring/uninspired about this device though, not to the slightest extent. No, the smooth, polished buttons with fingerprint patterns atop them look modern and vintage simultaneously, with the round speaker appearing undeniably retro and the LCD screen balancing the retro details with sleek modernity.

While the device is mixing metals with plastic at the front, the circumference adopts a full-grain leather finish, ensuring that the model will look great anywhere, from mid-century décors to contemporary and modern settings. Now, the white panels are easily soiled, nothing can be done about that. Aside from that though, the product does not take one wrong turn.

The screen that we have mentioned before provides 3 text lines, offering information pertaining to the news, broadcasters, titles, song names, artists, and more. Also, the screen lets you adjust the brightness levels, presenting additional dimmer control so that you can make sure the screen is visible during nighttime but also that it is not blinding you. Cranking up the brightness, you can make the information readable even under direct sunlight.

Review of Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1 Retro DAB/DAB+ Digital FM Portable Radio

Filling Rooms (with an Alarm Clock Radio)

With its misleading retro aesthetic, the device hides sophisticated controls and numerous interesting features. Even more interesting is the integrated sub. Working with the mono speaker, the sub produces rich, deep, and robust sound. The drivers and the intricate circuitry make this radio sound more like some Hi-Fi device than radio, with its 18-watt output offering balanced vocals and bright tones, easily filling sizable rooms.

Surrounding the massive volume knob are eight buttons, including Standby, Mode, Preset, Back, Info/Menu, Skip+, Skip-, and Enter. Between these buttons, you can create and access 20 DAB and 20 FM presets, adjust the EQ settings, and even arrange 4 alarm clocks, adding weekday and weekend settings, controlling the alarm volume, and choosing between different buzzers or the radio waking you up. Last but not least, this retro DAB radio comes with a remote and an AUX-input jack, so you can control the radio without using these buttons and even connect headphones to the device.

Long story short, the Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1 is not the most candid product, keeping its appearance primarily retro yet packing more modern features than most radios.

Spitalfields AZSPTLSBK1 Retro DAB/DAB+ Digital FM Portable Radio in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Roberts Radio Play10

Straightforward Controls

Unlike the preceding product, the Roberts Radio Play10 comes looking a little dull. Generally speaking, we do not place considerable importance upon aesthetics when talking about DAB radios, but we can appreciate the noticeable effort put towards the product's appearance. This is not the product biggest sin though since, again, aesthetics are not that important. But the maximum volume that the radio can reach without producing noise and distortions is important and this device is not as loud as its size would suggest. No, the model's fairly petite, measuring 18 x 10.5 x 5.5 centimetres but we have seen portable DAB radios commanding less sizable footprints and beating this one on the maximum volume front. All that being said, even though we have started with the negatives, this is one handy device, especially looking at its controls first.

We could not care less for complicated controls that take time and effort figuring out. This is not what's happening here though. Here, everything is straightforward, with 3 preset buttons, On/Off, Menu/Mode, volume buttons, and, where you would probably expect the volume knob is actually the tuning knob, letting you easily sift through stations. When you find the station that you like, choose between the 3 preset buttons and, from there, you'll be able to access that station in a snap.

In the back, there is the usual telescopic antenna, nothing new. There's something new about the LCD screen though, with its backlit 8-character starburst profile making it easy to search and scroll through the radio's menus and making music discovery hassle-free.

Review of Roberts Radio Play10 DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio

Sparing with the Batteries

Whilst the size that we have mentioned above might suggest otherwise, this is one lightweight device, weighing ~350 grammes, so bringing this portable DAB radio with you will present very little challenges. Plus, you can even wrap the embedded strap around the wrist and carry the radio keeping both hands free. Not unlike most kitchen radios nowadays, this product lets you select between using 4 AA batteries and the mains as its power source. Pretty conservative on the battery consumption front, this one will not force you to replace the batteries every few months. The last stop before concluding this review is the 3.5-millimetre headphones jack that somewhat solves the issue with the speaker being quiet.

When you also take the price into account, this small radio with preset buttons becomes quite an appealing product, one that most radio enthusiasts could benefit from.

Roberts Radio Play10 DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

MAJORITY (PEGO-DAB)

Personal DAB Radio

Even though radios are primarily about the tech that determines the range, features, settings/menus, and all that, the Majority Petersfield Go starts with its nimble footprint, this much is certain. Stopping at 7.5 x 5.4 x 1.2 centimetres, this is easily the most portable prospect within this selection, no contest. Of course, when we're talking about clip-on/pocket radio receivers and transmitters, speakers are seldom present. Instead, these models adopt the traditional 3.5-millimetre headphone jack, so you can use most headphones and earphones but using them you'll have to. Besides the jack, this USB-powered features the standard Type-A port that lets you recharge the battery via the supplied USB cable.

You'd think that the compact radio would be lacking features but we would not trust that thought. No, despite its petite profile, this device is not trailing behind in the functionality department, not one bit. First, disregarding the size limitations, the model's sporting quite an immodest screen, with its 3-line structure displaying battery status, signal quality, volume, time, broadcasting standard (DAB, DAB+, FM), station information, song name, artist, and more. The font's not as small as you would expect, so every information piece is easily readable even without moving the screen 5 centimetres close to the eyes. The screen even adopts pretty effective anti-glare coating, making the info on the screen legible even with the sun hitting right at it.

Review of MAJORITY (PEGO-DAB) Personal Digital DAB/DAB+/FM Radio

Even the Earphones do not Disappoint

We have been singing nothing but praises above and, for the most part, the product earns them. Still, we're yet to find perfection, and this device is not quite there yet. Whilst the buttons on the right side are alright, with the 2 volume buttons enabling easy volume adjustments and with the On/Off button serving its purpose without presenting any challenges, the front buttons are not as "alright". No, these ones (Select/Preset, Skip+, and Skip-) feel a little flimsy, not quite matching the quality standard that the rest have set. On the bright side, you can lock both groups, eliminating accidental volume adjustments, song skipping, etc.

Going back to the model's almost miniature size, this compact device easily fits most pockets, no one can claim otherwise. But, considering the embedded clip-on clasp, you will seldom choose shoving the radio in the pocket and instead attach the device onto the belt. Topping it all off, the device's shipped with above-average earphones, offering deep and consistent sound and, with the integrated aerial, receiving the best DAB/DAB+/FM signal and minimising interference.

Bottom line, those who prefer listening to the radio on the go cannot go wrong with Majority Petersfield Go.

MAJORITY (PEGO-DAB) Personal Digital DAB/DAB+/FM Radio in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

i-box (79234PI/14)

60 Favourite Stations

The people behind the DAB radio from I-Box have described this device as stylish and easy-to-use. We can get behind the second part but we're not seeing the first, apologies, friends. The radio does not look terrible, we're not suggesting that, but there's nothing particularly stylish about its appearance too. From where we're standing, the device looks normal, which is nothing to be ashamed of but also nothing to brag about. The button arrangement, the LCD screen, the mesh net covering the speaker, we have seen them all, so, again, apologies, but we're not impressed. That being said, we're also not turned off, so to say. No, the device has its moments, more than one.

First and maybe even foremost, you can store as many as 60 stations, adding 30 DAB and 30 FM stations to the favourites list. Using the Preset button below the Menu button, the device lets you sift through these stations, wasting less time than you would be searching for them manually. What's more, not unlike most DAB receivers/transmitters these days, this radio houses five preset buttons atop its body, offering easy and instant access to 5 DAB stations and 5 FM stations. Following the standard playbook, the device employs the DAB/FM button to let you switch between DAB and FM presets.

The buttons that we have already covered and the ones that we haven't are all sitting below the LCD screen, which is not the model's biggest selling point, unfortunate as it is. No, it is bright, and the orange backlighting makes the information legible even at night. But the UI is clunky and the font is awkward, so you really have to stare at the screen to figure out the information sometimes.

Review of i-box (79234PI/14) DAB/DAB+ FM Radio

Tremendous Battery Life

Somewhat offsetting the screen's drawbacks is the model's battery life. Well, first things first, the device uses an integrated rechargeable battery, which is already nice. Double-nice is that the battery will usually make one full charge last around 13-15 hours, whereas most DAB radios are capping at ~10. Besides everything we have addressed above, we have nothing against the carry strap, enabling comfortable transportation without occupying the hands. The sleep timer is alright too, shutting the device down after 15, 30, or 60 minutes. The telescopic antenna does not disappoint either, extending the signal without presenting any transportation challenges.

All in all, this product from I-Box is solid, more impressive than most USB-powered DAB radios but not quite there with the models that we have reviewed before this one (apart from the battery life and the 60-count favourite station list).

i-box (79234PI/14) DAB/DAB+ FM Radio in the use

 

What Is a Portable DAB Radio?

Thank you, frequency modulation (FM), you have served us well. But you're not getting any younger, so it might be time to start considering a retirement plan. Don't worry, digital audio broadcasts (DAB) will pick up the slack. As much as we dislike criticising seniors, FM cannot tussle with DAB, not really. The good news is that there are receivers that support both.

Cue these portable DAB radios, receivers that can decode binary data and process that data into audio. Using these devices, people can enjoy radio without suffering through the noise and distortion that FM broadcasts are always entailing. Within this selection, you will find excellent different options, with the best DAB radios celebrating tradition but also embracing change, not clinging to the past but also not denying its contribution. There are also models that do not care about that though, bringing nothing but performance, comfort, and functionality to the table.

Want something less portable but also less modest? These Internet radios should fit the bill, whereas these walkie talkies will prove even more portable, less adept at playing music but more at enabling long-distance communication.

What Features to Compare

Broadcast Standard

DAB (digital audio broadcast) is better than FM (frequency modulation) across the board, this is an established, undisputed fact. But there are way more FM stations than digital stations, so we would not recommend going with the device that does not support FM radio too. With time, DAB will replace FM but we're not quite there yet, so you cannot go wrong looking into the models that support both.

Type

This is where things get easy. Back in the days, we had gigantic radios, huge, enormous, massive, you get the gist. Nowadays, even the biggest tabletop receivers are usually measuring around 20 x 15 x 10 centimetres, meaning that they also usually double as handheld models. That being said, handheld does not mean that you can go running with one. No, this is where pocket models are coming into play, measuring around 8 x 5 x 2 centimetres so that you can fit them inside an average pocket or clip them to the belt. Normally, they're already coming with an embedded clip-on clasp, which means that fitting them seldom presents noticeable challenges.

Power Source

Again, we will not be delving into anything complicated here. Most tabletop models will give you two options: an AC cord, connecting them to the mains, and the battery approach, usually running on ~4 AA batteries. However, models with built-in rechargeable batteries are also quite prevalent these days, with these batteries usually lasting somewhere around 10-12 hours tops and taking ~2-3 hours to recharge.

Speakers

Generally speaking, DAB radios are adopting mono speakers, so you're not receiving that stereo sound that most people are accustomed to. At times, they might be adding a subwoofer to the speaker, making the output deeper and more spacious. The smallest, pocket models come without speakers at all, relying upon earphones to transmit the sound.

Extras

DAB models are seldom built without LCD screens nowadays, relaying information that might include the device's battery status, the signal quality, broadcasting standard, time, programme details, and more. Most screens come featuring backlighting and, at times, even anti-glare coating. Setting the screen aside, these devices are not different from most radios, so an antenna (usually telescopic) will be present and headphones jack(s) will be too. Because these are DAB radios, they might also be adding preset buttons, sleep timers, different modes, and more.

DAB vs FM

People that are not into radio as all that much probably associate the approach with the AM/FM broadcasting standards. That makes sense because, for the longest time, that was primarily the case. But DAB (digital audio broadcasting) has arrived and is here to stay. Before that though, we need to understand how radio works in the first place. When we're saying "radio", we're normally referring to electrical energy transmission without that's possible without using any wired connections. The transmitters are sending out the radio waves, and the receivers are picking them up. Between these two equipment pieces, the transmitted electromagnetic energy is moving around in waves, with the waves adopting a certain frequency, length, and speed.

These waves are always moving following specific up-and-down patterns, with the program signals determining and governing the pattern. Once the program is added onto the wave, the transmission starts taking place, initiating the process usually referred to as modulation. With the frequency modulation (FM) approach, the program signals are causing an alteration in the waves' frequency. With the amplitude modulation (AM) method, the program signals change the waves' size.

Of course, digital radio employs neither methods. No, this approach relies upon digitally transmitted data, the ones that zeros that govern all digital data. The station is encoding and transmitting binary data and receivers are decoding the data and processing that data into music, news, sports talk, etc. With this method, the sound's turned into digits representing different patterns and separate notes bearing different digit patterns. We can continue explaining this stuff but this is getting boring, so let's cut to the chase already.

Which Standard Is Better?

Long story short - the digital one DAB), hands-down. This is not even a controversial opinion. No, FM always distorts the sound, nothing that the program and the equipment can do about that. No, sound-quality wise, these two are not even close, with DAB radio producing a clean, crisp, consistent audio stream. Plus, digital signals can also carry information regarding specific details about the track that's being played, including the artist's name, album title, release year, and so on.

So, why are we even discussing these differences? Well, because as far as the coverage is concerned, AM/FM easily beats DAB, because these stations have been around for decades now. That being said, DAB transmitters are coming, and we would not recommend scoffing at the rate with which they're coming. In the UK, somewhere around 150-200 new DAB transmitters are being added throughout the country every year, adding ~2.5 million users.

We're not even mentioning the added features, by the way, letting users pause, record, and rewind broadcasts, letting them save favourite stations, and more. But, again, modulation (AM/FM) broadcasting standards are still more prevalent, so we would recommend purchasing radios that can work with both DAB and AM/FM.

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Publish Date: 2020-06-24 08:47:09